• United States

John Cooper Fitch was an American racing driver and inventor. He was the first American to race automobiles successfully in Europe in the post-war era.

Fitch went on to design and build a prototype of the Fitch Phoenix, a Corvair-based two-seat sports car, superficially resembling a Bizzarrini 1900 GT Europa and a smaller version of the Corvette-based Mako Shark. With a total weight of 1,950 pounds (885 kg), even with a steel body, and with the Corvair engine modified with Weber carburetors to deliver 175 hp (130 kW), the car delivered spirited performance for $8,760. Intermeccanica influence and 1964-1967 Fiat 1500C saloon taillights were also present. Unfortunately, the Traffic Safety Act of 1966 placed restrictions on the ability to produce automobiles on a small scale; this was followed by Chevrolet's decision to terminate production of the Corvair, which confirmed the end of Fitch's plan. He retained the prototype however, and occasionally exhibited it at car shows. It is briefly glimpsed in the film Gullwing at Twilight: The Bonneville Ride of John Fitch, mentioned above. The Fitch Phoenix has a major role in an episode of the Discovery Channel series Chasing Classic Cars hosted by Wayne Carini where he gives it a minor restoration before it going to auction and sells for $230,000.